When you're tasked with monitoring an underwater area the size of Japan, you have to come up with creative solutions. Virtual Reef Diver is the latest tool that lets anyone around the world explore the reef and classify it from the comfort of their own home. Now you can do your bit to help the reef without getting out of your chair.
Considering that the Great Barrier Reef covers almost 350,000 square kilometers, going through the surveying images of the reef is a herculean task. Virtual Reef Diver is part of National Science Week and tries to break that task down into little chunks that anyone at all can contribute to.
The idea is quite simple, anyone that wants to take part can login and look at images of the reef. On those images are 15 circles that have to be classified as coral, algae or sand. Data from these images is then used to make predictive models to help give scientists a better view of what's going on.
Classifying the images is easy as the site's help guide gives clear examples of the various objects in the reef. Each image rewards the users points too, if you want the added motivation that comes from gamification.
So far over 77,000 images have been classified and they're being used by the team behind Virtual Reef Diver to build and improve statistical models to monitor the reef. You're not just trying to find Nemo by clicking around on images of the reef, you're actively contributing to the management of it.
The second phase of Virtual Reef Diver will allow users to upload their own images of the reef for classification.